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Winter to the Wire with an Attempt of The Bonds

         Winter is quickly coming to a close and because of that, I've put my blinders on. It's time to get this done. Three years in the making, I am really hoping that weather remains on my side for the last chances I have. I'm a therapist by trade which makes me extremely analytical and to my detriment, I think way too much. I can probably analyze myself out of some pretty big things if I am  not careful. But also, I loose confidence in myself very quickly. So, today, I planned The Bonds to grab West Bond and get the other two (Bond Cliff and Bond) for March. I literally set myself up as I was entering in from Lincoln Woods. I am not a fan of this stretch of trail. It's well traveled but it can also be too well traveled. And it's flat... And straight. And long. I had planned an early start and pretty much got underway when I wanted to. Isis and I arrived at Lincoln Woods and practically jumped up and got ready and before I could blink we were on the trail. 

       The long flat walk had begun and I already had my snowshoes on since I really didn't want to add weight. Someone had made a snowman which had seen better days. As we walked, my thoughts drifted from work, to home, to my Long Trail trip, and then back to the present. I had spent a lot of time on this long flat trail convincing myself that I can hike out in the dark. That's why I have a headlamp (two actually) in my pack. I was making good time on the long flat hike in and before I knew it we hit the bridge at Franconia Falls. Onto the Wilderness trail and the Bond Cliff trail we went after some food. The track shrank to a sled  track where ski's had traveled. Still packed out and crusted so, I remained positive. It's quiet with not another soul on the trail this morning. This also concerns me.

         On our way to the turn onto the Bond Cliff trail, Isis takes a detour and we find a stealth campsite. What are the chances that this is my insurance policy and they are a bunch of early risers already on their way above tree line? We power on and then break at the sign post for the turn. I look at the trail and simultaneously my heart drops as my eyes fall out of my head. It's untouched... I'm the only one out here and it's untouched. Can I go back and wake up camp so that they can help me??? This may not be a good thing but I press on. I'm determined to try. I want this done. After we eat, I step onto the untouched trail and I'm relieved that it's just a breakable crust that is about a half an inch deep. We can do this. 

          The water crossings have all be solid and I was pleased with the reroute for the one that had spilled onto the trail last spring and summer. It was open enough to allow Isis to get a good drink but not flowing over or fast. We continued traveling over varying terrain which was welcome from the flatness that was Lincoln Woods. I noticed that the confusing blowdown that once covered the trail is gone and that further tells me that I can hike out in the dark. That blowdown always confused me in the light so, I was concerned about it. Now I was free and clear. Let's go get those peaks. I had made up my mind to just cross Bond Cliff and Bond without big stops. I wanted to get to West Bond. The one that mattered most to me today. I was stopping a little and since the temps were actually warm, I was not too upset. I wanted to take my time. I wanted to enjoy this hike since I really love this area in any season. I was resting in my element as we continued up the trail. We came to the bend by the stream where the elevation gain begins to kick in and then I noticed that the snow pack is more unconsolidated and it's getting deeper. I push and I dig and I want so bad to keep going. I thought I was getting snowballs under my shoes because the grip was not there. I dig a little deeper and get up some pretty steep sections. The drifts become intermittent and I'm again hopeful. Isis is doing well with the depth too which helps me press on. I want this. I really want this.

     Isis and I make it to just over 3000 feet and I'm running low on energy. I know the exact area we are in as the trail opens up ahead of me and then it dips way down before the final push. I can see the entrance to being above tree line in my head but I'm tired and there is no one else coming towards us or up behind us. I stop on a relatively flat section and look at the thin trail ahead of me and what I've broken out behind me. I notice that my pole is stuck in the middle of the trail too.

"Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT!" I'm crying and Isis is sitting at my feet looking up concerned and not knowing how to comfort. "Fuck. I need to make a decision. I don't want to. I want this. I see it getting worse before I meet up with anyone. I see it being a very long day. Shit. Isis what do I do? What do I do?" And almost as if she understood, She looked ahead and then paused to look back at me. Then she made her way back towards my pole. "OK." And we began our descend of the Bond Cliff trail.

      The descend is of course easy since we've already broken it out. Getting close to the bottom, we run into a group of five guys (my stealth campers) and I tell them of my experience. They thanked me for breaking out what I did which a really appreciated and took it as a compliment to my strength and my determination. One of them agreed that I did the right thing and told me the mountains will always be there. They joked that I could turn around and help them by leading the way but I respectfully declined with a laugh. Isis go her dose of love from each of them as we passed and wished them well in their journey to Bond Cliff. We continued our descend rather quickly and popped back out at the straight away rather quickly. It was 1pm when we arrived. And then began the long flat walk back. As my mind raced and began to make plans for a finish. I needed time and while I had a commitment for Sunday, I was sure that I could rearrange things and buy myself another day. I really didn't want to do a double header next weekend and because of the weather, it remains to be seen if I will indeed finish. However, I'll take a postpone finish due to weather over weakness any day. I kept my head down so as to make the time pass quicker on this section of the journey.

       Once we reached the bridge at Franconia Falls, society began to invade my peace. A woman on skis with no less than 10 unleashed dog was coming at me. Now, I'll leave Isis down for one or two dogs, a pack, I'm really not interested in the outcome. I demanded that she call her dogs and quickly realized that she's in way over her head. There is no way she can have control over this pack. I make my way through and hope that she's not turning around. My pace is slow and I really just wanted to feed Isis again. Sadly, there were to many dogs on the trail to do so. As we got closer to the final bridge back to the parking area, I feel something that I don't want to... A hot spot on the ball of my right foot. I'm going to need some moleskin for tomorrow and thankfully, I have some. Everyone I run into is all smiles and enjoying the day as I am just trying to make my way back to the car. Some are dressed more appropriately than others but I'm just interested in one things. Getting home to prep for tomorrow. Isis and I get back to the car around 3pm and I smile at her as she sits in her seat patiently waiting for her Greenie and smiling back at me. I really don't know at this point what I would do without her. She keeps me sane in an insane world. I love her for that. I change without caring for the tourists milling about. It's time for coffee and to head back for a rest. I've got to see this through and take every opportunity I can. I know of at least one group going out tomorrow from the Zealand side and that is my plan. I'm hoping that a well traveled trail from today and tomorrow will help me out. I'm just going for West Bond and even skipping Zealand (I have no need for it).

      I don't give up very easy these days and every day seems to be a constant fight (through emotion, thought, or illness). For someone that can have a hard time getting herself out of bed some days, to be able to do what I do is a blessing and I am forever grateful to the mountains and to my motivator... Isis. We are looking to embark on an End to End of the Long Trail through Vermont. At this point, it now looks like June to accommodate my work schedule. I am blessed that my supervisors are willing to work with me to make this happen and willing to work the extra hours to get the time off I need. This trip is very special to me as a therapist  and a person who has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It's my aim to help others realize that physical activity and being outdoors can be beneficial to treatment. I share my story with every one here because I believe in myself (even when I don't) and this Thru Hike will further help me spread the word. Hiking with your best friend is an added bonus and like I said, she keeps me sane in this insane world.

       I am currently entered into a contest to have this trip sponsored by a pet outfitter called Kurgo. The first phase asks you to like my story and tell Kurgo to sponsor me. This phase ends around April 15th, 2015. Please go to this link and give me a thumbs up: PLEASE TELL KURGO TO SPONSOR MY LONG TRAIL THRU HIKE!

Ten finalists will be chosen for interviews and features on the Kurgo Facebook page and then you will be asked to vote again. Four winners will be chosen from the ten finalists. Please help me be one of them. Sponsorship will help me gather the necessary gear and really open the door for this opportunity.

Thank you so much for following along! 

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